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Satellite services – the missing piece of the telco s...

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Satellite services – the missing piece of the telco service puzzle

The next 10 years will see a threefold increase in satellite launches when compared to the previous decade. Elon Musk’s Starlink service is rarely out of the news, and Amazon and others are forging ahead with their own satellite networks. These developments reflect the fact that the satellite industry is undergoing rapid evolution and growth. This raises important questions, given that fibre and 5G networks continue to expand. Why the sudden growth in satellite services, and what is fuelling this surge in innovation?

Is it better? 

To be developed and adopted, new technologies typically must be faster, cheaper, or better in some other way. Looking at 150Mbps consumer terminals, Smart Satellite Services are much faster and cheaper than previous generations of satellite technology, and have exorcised the ghosts of slow speed, high cost and endemic latency. 

However, it’s important to be clear on one point: current satellite services are neither better nor cheaper than fibre or fixed wireless. The same applies to the planned LEO, MEO and advanced GEO services. This view has been publicly stated by Elon Musk of Starlink. Speaking at the Satellite 2020 Conference, he asserted that, “Starlink is not some huge threat to telcos. I want to be super clear: it is not.” He added, “5G is great for high density situations, but it’s actually not great for the countryside, you know, for rural areas. It’s not great; you need range. And so in any kind of sparse environment 5G is really not well suited.”

In summary, satellite is not better – but it is different.

Is the difference good?

In other words, Smart satellite services offer a viable alternative to more mainstream telco offerings. Satellite is flexible; it can connect any location at any time; and it offers extremely high reliability. That is in part, due to the fact that satellites are not vulnerable to terrestrial risks such as cable theft or power outages. Current satellite services also sit at the same or similar cost points to LTE, thus making them a very feasible option in the overall communications picture. 

Success story: Daily Maverick 

With imminent vital online meetings with partners in the USA, senior figures at Daily Maverick (DM) reached out to Twoobii to provide a connectivity option that promised zero downtime. The satellite link would be used as the primary link rather than as a back-up, and the DM team were only able to give four days’ notice. Despite the inclement weather, the temporary installation was completed by the agreed date and time. 

“I had a fantastic experience working with the team at Twoobii to set up emergency satellite broadband at my office, ahead of a series of important Zoom meetings that were going to be affected by both load shedding and my neighbourhood’s fibre line being disconnected for maintenance. We could not risk those Zoom calls being disconnected or cancelled,” commented Diana Neille, Director of Beatnik Productions, a Daily Maverick Company. “It was amazing to experience the peace of mind that came from having access to satellite broadband and knowing that we could plan and hold our meetings without stress. From sales to installation, the Twoobii team was understanding and efficient, and within a few days of reaching out to them, I had an impressive-looking satellite dish on my roof. The connectivity has been reliable and quite fast, for both voice and video streaming as well as day-to-day internet research and processing. With all the uncertainty and frustration that comes from living and running a business in South Africa today, it was refreshing to find and have access to a solidly reliable service,” she added.  


Satellite is, and will likely remain, a niche technology that solves specific requirements and adds value in specific areas of the telco landscape. Satellite is the perfect option to provide back-up for fibre or to ensure 100% network availability in an SD-WAN configuration, or to provide assured services for ATM and POS (point-of-sale) services. Even though these are relatively specialist applications, recent industry innovations will greatly boost satellite service deployment and adoption, and lead to Smart Satellite services becoming a R1bn industry in southern Africa.  DM


About TWOOBII managed by Q-KON

Twoobii is a high-throughput satellite connectivity service, powered by the latest Intelsat platforms and managed by leading satellite engineering enterprise, Q-KON. Twoobii was established in 2018 and remains at the forefront of African satellite connectivity solutions. Twoobii continues to pioneer advances in satellite business broadband technology as a standalone service or as a component of integrated network architecture solutions. For more information, click here: https://twoobii.com/ 

Q-KON is a first-tier provider of integrated access services, specialising in turnkey telecommunications solutions and value-added distribution, configuration, integration and installation services for Africa. To learn more about Q-KON’s product offering, visit https://www.qkon.com/ 



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